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FLEXO Magazine : July 2014
Until recently, seamless was considered a “bad word” in flexography. The industry has improved its ability to deliver print in this format, but sleeve sourcing can be expensive and timing can be lengthy if tooling requirements or design changes are not communicated through the entire supply chain. Situations that degrade the perceived quality of the package can be avoided if the design can account for how plates are mounted on sleeve or if a dialogue is generated early in the design process to use seamless media. Brand Placement At the 2014 Expanded Gamut session at FTA’s Annual Forum, titled “The Customers And You!,” David Franklin of David Franklin Design and Rick Pollard of Procter & Gamble both touched on optimizing designs to hide the process deficiencies of expanded gamut and to accentuate its capabilities. With that said, any flexographic print job should always optimize the design for the technologies that will be used to produce the packaging. Some specific considerations are addressed in Tyler Mills’ article “Printing a Rembrandt,” FLEXO® June 2011. When a brand is being developed and SKUs are being designed, the brand colors can be used to convey a consistent marketing message to the consumer. There are many ways to do this with process color (4-color or 7-color), spot colors or a combination of the two. There is not one correct way of producing the highest perceived quality pack- age. The decision should be based on several things: • Capabilities of the substrate • Print conditions • Associated costs From the print perspective, a successful translation of a design that looks great on a screen, to a package that looks great on a shelf relies on the chosen separation method. Choices about the separations are constrained by the available print stations on a press and the associ- ated process print capability. Having a dedicated design review with the supply chain prior to the release of final files for production allows print associated concerns to be identified. This print assessment pro- vides a forum to address altering the design construction to achieve predictable, repeatable print while not altering the original marketing intent. The importance of driving this communication upstream is often overlooked and results in delayed time and wasted materials. A typical decision is whether to build a graphic element from a process build or a spot color. The best answer often depends on how it’s being utilized for the brand. For example, the brand owner’s logo is often created from a line color to ensure consistency across an entire product line, but a flavor descriptor only used on one particular pack- age may be created using process inks. A common error at the design stage is to convert a Pantone color to process using the default Adobe Illustrator color settings (most likely SWOP). While this looks good on screen, the actual product may differ significantly. The appearance of process color varies heavily depending upon the substrate and the ink delivery system of the flexographic printer. Setting this color expectation early in the process to determine the original intent, the method of conversion and when in the workflow to convert brand colors helps eliminate wasted time tweaking color in one color gamut only to be tweaked again in another. Sometimes, line colors are split between process and screen sep- arations when print units are available, so a particular design can benefit from nice solid laydown and fine smooth screens provided by two different anilox rolls. As designs become more complex and designers push the limits of the process, decisions are made to em- ploy technologies like flat top dot, expanded gamut, high resolution imaging, solid and transitional screening or multiple combinations thereof to help create the best impact at that “First Moment of Truth.” Each decision has an impact on how an element should be created and utilized in a brand family. It’s up to the technology sup- plier to communicate those requirements through the supply chain to maximize the benefits at each stage. Product Imagery: Process Photos Vibrant product imagery catches the consumer’s eye during the “First Moment of Truth,” making it one of the most important parts of the “Each decision has an impact on how an element should be created and utilized in a brand family. It’s up to the technology supplier to communicate those requirements through the supply chain to maximize the benefits at each stage. ” 30 FLEXO | JULY 2014